PUTRAJAYA: University rankings are not the be-all and end-all for universities, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic).
He said rankings should not be the sole focus of universities in pursuing excellence.
"Instead, priority should be given to substantial elements that will give a high impact on education and the culture of academic excellence, as well as contribute to Malaysia's higher education’s ecosystem," he said during a press conference on the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2020 at his office on Wednesday (June 19).
"We want Malaysian universities to produce academics and students based on integrity and social responsibility.
"All universities should have the ability to produce talented graduates who are future proof, determined and adaptable to changes happening around them,” he added.
"We need to form an intellectual ecosystem at all universities."
Maszlee also said that universities should act as the "brains of society" and work towards creating research that benefits society.
He added that a university's rankings will "naturally go up" if they focus on being "a university for society."
Although Maszlee stressed that rankings are not the most important element in determining a varsity's success, they are crucial for attracting international students.
This is because, he continued, these students look at a university's rankings when deciding on which institution to attend.
Maszlee also said that Universiti Malaya now ranks 70 in this edition of the rankings.
They were 87 last year, he added.
Malaysia’s other four research universities also are continuing to climb up the international university rankings, he said.
Universiti Putra Malaysia ranked 159, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ranked 160, Universiti Sains Malaysia ranked 165 and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia is at 217.
Maszlee added that according to QS, Malaysia is among the countries that has shown the best improvement in the latest world university ranking.
He also said 20 local universities have been listed this year, with 10 universities improving from last year's ranking, while two universities retained their positions.
Additionally, seven universities have been ranked for the first time and one university dropped in its position from last year's rankings.